Meet the Director of Come Down From Up River by Norm Foster, Sheila McCarthy

Canadian stage and screen legend Sheila McCarthy makes her Lighthouse directorial debut this May

Lighthouse Festival is pleased to welcome Canadian stage and screen legend, Sheila McCarthy, as the Director for our season premiere, Come Down From Up River by Norm Foster. McCarthy’s list of credits is vast and she is one of Canada’s most honoured artists, having won two Genie Awards, two Gemini Awards, an ACTRA Award, and two Dora Awards, along with numerous nominations. Her credits include Sarah Polley’s Oscar®-winning movie Woman Talking [MGM], Umbrella Academy [Netflix], Little Mosque on the Prairie [CBC], Stratford and Shaw festivals, I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Die Hard 2, Being Julia, and The Day After Tomorrow.

We spoke with McCarthy on a range of topics including what drew her to Come Down From Up River, what she thinks audiences will take away from the play, and what being a part of the Oscar®-winning filmWomen Talking was like.

Q: What drew you to this production as a director?

A: I was drawn to this play because I love delving into Norm Fosters work as a playwright. He writes more complicated stories than people think and I love discovering all the many layers of his words. Plus I love the idea of this incredible cast and working in beautiful Port Dover. 

Q: What will the audience be thinking about in the car as they drive home after seeing this show?

A: I think audiences will delve into stories about their own families as they drive home. The secrets and unsolved questions, the skeletons rattling in their own closets about misinterpreted moments and generational misunderstanding. I hope they also drive home with smiles on their faces about a great night in the theatre!

Q: When you have a five minute break during rehearsals, what do you spend your time doing?

A: During my five minute breaks I like to walk and stretch and drink more coffee and have a few laughs with the team in rehearsal!

Q: What’s going to surprise people about this show?

A: I think audiences will be surprised by how moved they are as they get to really know and love our three flawed characters in Come Down from Up River. I think they might also be surprised by recognizing themselves in this piece and wondering if they also need to mend a few family fences.

Q: What was it like to be a part of the Oscar-winning production of Women Talking and to be part of strong female-led cast and crew?

A: Being a part of Women Talking, the movie I did with Sarah Polley that went all the way to the Oscars, nominated fro Best Film and winning for best adapted screenplay was an incredible ride for me. I am so proud of the work in it and having had the opportunity to work with such a star studded stellar cast not to mention the wonderful crew. Having the ‘Queen’, Claire Foy, washing my feet on the first day of shooting is a memory I will not soon forget! Spending the last six months travelling with the cast on the press junkets was so much fun. And the response people have to the movie is very moving to me. Being in such a female driven project and having it so widely recognized and appreciated makes me feel very lucky indeed.